tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 17, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
and sell and fight for. i think we can't see these budget negotiations as being transactions and i think the president needs to understand one of the things that gets us all fired up and gets us in congress, in a place that we can defend the things we care about is that he leads us and that's what we're asking him to do more of. >> i couldn't agree more with that. thank you for your time tonight. >> thank you. >> i want to thank everybody for watching. "hardball" starts right now. escape from japan. and heading to libya. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. happy st. patrick's day. leading off tonight, high anxiety. there's finally good news out of japan. the international atomic energy agency reports there is now electrical power in place and water is being pumped in lowering the pressure inside those reactors.
this news comes after authorities were reduced to dumping water from helicopters and spraying water from fire trucks in a last-ditch effort to cool those spent fuel rods. in a moment, we'll hear from a ann curry on the ground and a commissioner and get a report from the ground in japan. also, credibility gap. the widening chasm between what the japanese government is saying and what we can believe. it happened at three mile island. it really happened at chernobyl and now it's happening at japan, officials playing down the dangers. we'll try to bridge the credibility gap tonight. plus, the nuclear disaster has once again turned u.s. public opinion, obviously, against nuclear power. no surprise there. that hasn't stopped die hard supporters from calling this a once-in-a-lifetime fluke. could nuclear power make a comeback here no matter what happens in japan? also, a no-fly zone over libya. they've done it. we know what all necessary measures means, military action.
that puts the united states and the world militarily now on the side of the rebels facing moammar gadhafi. this is war. and donald trump spent the day in the morning on tv trashing the likely republican candidates for president but also flirting with the birther vote. does that mean he's actually running, the fact that he's doing that? we start with the nuclear crisis in japan. nbc's ann curry is joining us from akita, japan, northwest of the nuclear complex. ann, i love having you on the show, but what a terrible time. what's happening to our american compatriots in that country? >> reporter: well, there's a lot of fear, anger and distrust here, chris, especially because of the discrepancies now between the u.s. government and the japanese government on just what the risk is. i want to tell you, however, first of all, about some breaking news we're hearing from the state department that there is a large pocket of americans up in the sendai area. now, the sendai area was hard hit by the tsunami and the quake.
it is north of this fukushima nuclear power complex. and so, now what's happening is 14 buses are now en route, according to the state department, to get this large pocket of americans that's been trying to get out ever since the tsunami and the quake. it's en route and it's supposed to be transporting these buses up to 600 americans that may be up in that area. the problem is, these buses are now going to have to travel south past this nuclear complex to get to tokyo. so, there's going to be a lot of, obviously, concern about the winds, and certainly, this is going to be a very thought-out operation to make sure that that transport is safe. also, we want to tell you about these nuclear reactors, chris. two, three and four are still in big trouble. you mentioned these helicopter water-drops. the last word we've had is that the japanese government have stopped those water drops because they're still assessing whether, in fact, they even worked, whether they have made a difference.
and this is doing nothing to answer, to mitigate this distrust and anger that i talked about. i mean, ever since the u.s. government came out and said that it had a different risk assessment, that americans, it said, should be 50 miles away from the nuclear power complex, while the japanese government is saying that it's 12 miles, the evacuation is 12 miles and up to 19 miles away people should stay in their homes. this has really caused an increase in distrust and now japanese citizens are openly questioning their government and the train stations and airports are crammed with people while the streets of tokyo are empty, chris. >> put it together. this normally would be a tsunami story, if it weren't for the nuclear reactors that had been basically jeopardizing everything right now. what is happening with people trying to help? normally, we'd have worldwide relief efforts coming in to a country like japan helping people deal with this horrible -- we've seen the pictures -- horrible destruction of these towns and cities.
what's happening to them? are they afraid to go in now because of the radiation? >> reporter: well, it is a big concern. every aid agency, every responding group has got to assess the risk for their workers. and what we're looking at on a map, if you can imagine this, the hardest hit area is in the north, and they are hard hit. we're talking about people who have no heat, who are in freezing temperatures because now the temperatures dropped and snow has arrived, are shivering at night. we're talking about elderly people shivering at night in whatever coats they have in evacuation centers. we're talking about people not having enough food. we want to an evacuation center, chris, where people were down to one ball of rice and water a day, and you know, we're talking, in that evacuation center, the people were between the ages of 3 and 95. so, the problem is that's in the north. in the middle is this nuclear power complex. and down below is tokyo, and tokyo is the feeder point where all of this aid is arriving.
so, we have reached all the way to the top out of safety for our team to akita in the way northwest, and we can tell aid organizations that are listening now that the airports in akita, the airport in akita is open. and if aid would be able to come in that direction and if they could get the gas, which is very difficult to get on the roads, and they can get clearance to drive on the roads, they could drive this kind of aid that's so needed down towards these hard-hit areas. but it's very, very difficult to come in from the south because of this nuclear disaster. so, you're absolutely right, chris, it has if not seriously -- it has seriously slowed, at best, the response, the humanitarian response in one of japan's greatest hours of need. >> let's go to the politics. last question. how are the people responding to the government's information so far? do they trust it? >> reporter: no. there is an increasing anger and fury about the credibility
because of this discrepancy between what the u.s. is saying and what the japanese government is saying in terms of what the risks are. and i think that just to see that people are concerned and that they're leaving is an indication that there is a growing sense that the government and the company that's operating this nuclear facility has lost credibility. and that is a major concern. i don't know to the extent to which there is this feeling, but it's clear that it's happening. >> great reporting from ann curry over in tokyo -- or actually, over in akita, japan. thank you for joining us so much tonight on "hardball." ann curry from the "today" show and nbc news. for more on the desperate race to cool the nuclear complex and prevent a meltdown, a real meltdown, let's turn to jerry merrifield with me, a former commissioner on the nuclear regulatory committee. you heard ann. fill it in.
what can you add? >> the key is to make sure they can get water into the spent fuel fields, whether by plane or cannon. that water needs to get in here. >> how much water are we talking about here? like we would see with a five-alarm fire with the hoses pouring in, is that what you need? >> sort of. the problem is -- and we're still trying to figure out why this didn't happen -- but you could have put a fire hose in there a long time ago, days ago, and they didn't. and it is rather curious -- >> what were they using, bucket brigades? >> well, it's uncertain. at one point, they had a relatively small number of folks at the site. they were focused on trying to deal with the reactors who were having the challenges, and it makes one wonder what were they doing with the pools. here in the u.s., we would have had a lot more people going into that reactor, we would have made sure that there would have been people taking care of the pools, put in, if needed, some fire hoses. it doesn't take a lot. really, all you need is enough water going in to make up for the water that's evaporating, and that's not that hard if you
catch it quick. >> what's more dangerous to the people of japan now, the spent fuel that needs to be cooled or the actual reactors themselves? doesn't seem to be getting out of control. >> actually, the issues in the reactor, with the limited information we've been receiving lately, is the containments of the reactors may appear to be intact at all of the reactors at which we've had concerns. the real issue right now are the spent fuel pools, where those are open, they are uncontained, and we've really got to get water on them to ensure there are no additional problems. >> this is an american television show, i want to talk about us. a united nations weather forecast shows the radioactive plume sweeping across the pacific ocean right now and reaching southern california by tomorrow, friday, but officials say radiation levels -- this is what officials say -- radiation levels will dissipate by the time the cloud reaches the united states, the west coast, and pose no danger or health risk to americans. what is -- can you give us -- do you the common sense to tell us how dangerous is the -- the word plume. i know it doesn't mean mushroom cloud. >> yeah.
>> it sounds close enough, though to most people, my god, this thing. i grew up in the '50s and we're used to these misty clouds transforming people into shrinking men and all kinds of things affecting us. >> right. >> is it truly not dangerous? >> what we're going to see is not dangerous. let me put it into context. if you look at chernobyl, you had a reactor with a major fire with graphite, lofted that material 30,000 feet, 40,000 feet up into the air and got into the jet stream. that material, the distance from chernobyl to new york was about 5,000 miles. over the course of a year, the amount of radiation that was received in the united states is 1/300 of the amount an average person would receive. so, even though it was a major catastrophe, the impacts here we saw -- you look at the distance between tokyo and los angeles, it's actually -- >> we're looking at one of those explosions right now in the stock footage. it's pretty scary. let me ask you, how long will there be a danger over there, a couple weeks, three weeks, four weeks? how long will this go on? >> i think it's indeterminant at this point.
if they can keep the water on the spent fuel pools and if they can re-establish power at the reactors themselves, which they appear to be doing, hopefully -- >> why is that good to re-establish power? >> the reason they need to re-establish power is to get the cooling power capabilities back into the reactor so you're simply not putting in sea water. you're actually using the emergency systems within the plant itself to keep the fuel -- >> like a car with a water-cooled engine. >> right, exactly, yeah. >> how long -- you're our expert here, so most americans are out there worried, buying iodine pills on the west coast, we hear today. they're probably wearing out the cvs, whoever's selling this stuff. >> this will not be a major issue for the united states. the important thing to keep in mind, there is a vast difference between what we can detect for radiation, and we can detect microscopic amounts of it, in the parts per billion, versus that which is meaningfully going to affect human health. >> so, we don't have to worry about the particulates landing on us.
>> no, we don't. >> we don't have to worry about it beaming on us. >> that's correct. >> do we have to worry about the plants melting down truly, what we know as a chernobyl-style meltdown? if those reactors, if some of them do melt down, then what to us? how about to the japanese? >> if we're lacking only -- let's start first with the american people. if those reactors were to melt down, or if that fuel was to melt down, the amount of radiation would be more localized. it would be a much more serious issue for the people who live in japan. >> would it become a dead zone? >> there is an area potentially you would want to keep people away from entering because it could have very high radiation levels. >> for a long time? >> it could be for a long time, yes. >> what about us, if there is a major meltdown of the reactors in japan, or several? >> if there is a meltdown of the reactors, that will be an issue for the people of japan. there will be radiation. it will be relatively low level that will reach the united states. >> that's great. i hate having you on for this reason, but you're a great guest
and people are hanging on every word, i can tell you from the size of the audience watching these shows. people in america are hanging on this information. we have never felt this need to know this information before, luckily. we've been very fortunate. thank you. do you think we should have nuclear energy in this country? >> i do. i do. you know, we've had an excellent safety record on the reactors over the last 30 years. they've been reliable, 90% capacity factors. it's a form of fuel that's we have energy security. zero carbon effect. >> we'll have you back on to debate this. i think it will become a hot issue politically. >> thank you for having me back. >> thank you, jerry merrifield. coming up, how high is the radiation risk around that nuclear plant, again, and even in tokyo itself, the capital of the country? can we trust -- this is the big one coming up. we have great reporters coming up on this. can we trust the japanese government or any government, but the japanese government? we're going to get to the issues of cultural self-reliance and why the japanese government has been so reticent to ask for foreign hem from the
first notion of trouble. they didn't go for help. is that just pride? maybe it's justifiable pride. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. as much as i can about a company before i invest in it. that's why i like fidelity. they give me tools and research i can't get anywhere else. their stock screener lets me search for stocks with more than 140 criteria. i can see what their experts are thinking and even call them to bounce an idea off of one of their investment professionals. a good strategy relies on good insight. if you wanted to learn more about a company, i think you'd actually have to be there.
the crisis in japan has obviously shaken america's confidence in nuclear energy. a new gallup poll finds that 70% of americans say they're more concerned about nuclear power because of what they've been watching unfold in japan. we're not stupid. and support for nuclear power in this country is dropping a bit. a plurality now, 47% now say they're opposed to it, 44% in favor. obviously, that will go back and forth, but it ain't going up very high. that's a 22-point shift downward since the beginning of the month, when 57% of americans did support nuclear energy, versus 38%. so, a big turn-around there. we observe things. we americans learn every day. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] if you're only brushing,
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"the new york times'" lead today right at the top of the fold on the right-hand side, the biggest story of the day. "the chairman of the united states nuclear regulatory commission gave a far bleaker appraisal on wednesday of the threat posed by japan's nuclear crisis than the japanese government had offered." well, does the japanese government have a credibility problem? david sanger is chief washington correspondent for "the new york times." he wrote that lead piece. michael hirsh is chief correspondent for "national journal." david, thank you for joining us. it's great to have you on tonight, and michael as well. david, what is the situation in terms of fact versus the reporting from the japanese government? >> well, i think yesterday, chris, there was a fairly large gap in the collection of facts between the u.s. and japan. that's been closed up a bit today because the u.s. has been able to send its first airborne sensors over the plant with the permission of the japanese government. and we're beginning to see some readings out of that, so people can begin to get some common numbers about what's actually
emitting from the plant. i think there's also a greater sense of reality among the japanese officials now that what they've been doing, at least what they did today and what you saw with those dramatic helicopter drops of water over the plant, may have made for really great tv video, but it's not clear that they lowered the temperature of either of the spent fuel rods that they're trying to hit by one iota. it's not clear at all that that was working. so, i think now you're beginning to see the two sides come together, but there's still a huge cultural gulf. michael and i both lived in japan at about the same time, and you know, the japanese first often don't want to talk very directly about bad news, particularly if they think it's going to cause a panic. but secondly, i think that they have been less than fully rigorous about thinking about the order in which they wanted to attack this problem. and today you sort of saw them
just throwing everything at it. >> let me go to michael hirsh. i suppose the first indication was there was a difference in fact, was that americans were saying 50 miles would be a good radius to get away from this nuclear plant, and the japanese were saying 19 miles will do it if you keep your doors closed. obviously, we're looking at the diagram here to show those differences of degree. and also, the japanese government reduced by a multiple of three the degree in which people felt exposure was a problem. so, they were making it a lot easier to justify sending the workers back in to face the reactors. that's what gave me the thinking there's a difference of fact we're getting here. michael. >> well, unquestionably. and look, all governments tend to dissemble a bit and play down disasters when they occur, but i think, you know, the record of the japanese government has been particularly egregious on this front. there was a very serious
accident in 1995 at the monju fast breeder reactor, and it was later found that the semi-governmental utility that ran that had actually falsified the video of the event to play down the severity of it. and this has been, you know, an ongoing issue, and it does play into these questions about cultural differences. you have in japan, despite, you know, nominal democracy there, much more of a hierarchical approach where the government plays a paternal role and decides what and what not to transmit to its citizens. >> that's a great question for you, david. being at the "times" and reporting on all these stories over the years, is this a case where our form of government, i don't mean our capitol, but the basic form of government where people at the top have to make decisions that wouldn't pass by plebiscite on a regular basis, nuclear energy is probably good because it avoids carbons, but
it carries huge stakes where it probably won't go bad, but if it does go bad, you can't even get insurance for it. is that something you can't sell to the public so governments generally go with nuclear because it's a better bet in terms of bang for the buck, but that bang is very dangerous? >> well, you see that in all countries, but particularly in japan, chris, where, of course, the nuclear allergies are much greater than they are even here in the united states. and it's fairly remarkable that in the country that suffered, you know, the only major nuclear attack, the only nuclear attack done in war, that you've got 30% of the energy coming from nuclear power. and that was out of necessity, and the government pushed it through, just as michael suggested before, and has found itself frequently in the position of having to suppress bad news, particularly over that monju breeder reactor that he made reference to. so, the government is certainly in that position.
it's made worse in japan by the fact that you have a news media that, while much more independent than it used to be, still sort of organizes itself around government ministries and is far more dependent on the government for official needs. and so, it's a lot harder to come out with the kind of journalism that we see here in the united states that would challenge an existing governmental position. the other element in all of this is the tokyo electric power company may not be fully leveling with their own japanese government officials. and one of the remarkable things about this is it's very hard to know who's really in charge here, the government or tokyo electric power. it reminds you in some ways of those debates we had on your show, in fact, about whether or not the u.s. government or bp was running the show during the oil catastrophe. >> yeah. it sure looked like bp, as we know. thank you.
michael, more for you next time. i'm sorry to short you this time. we had so much to get on tonight. michael sanger and david hirsh. up next, president obama and members of congress from both sides of the aisle had been pushing for more nuclear energy here at home. of course, even the democrats were joining the team, but is the crisis in japan changing their minds? the future of nuclear energy here, after this, next. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. [ robin ] my name is robin.
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i know that it is not your job. what i'm saying... excuse me? alright, fine. no, you don't have to do it. ok? [ male announcer ] notre dame knows it's better for xerox to control its printing costs. so they can focus on winning on and off the field. [ manager ] are you sure i can't talk -- ok, no, i get it. [ male announcer ] with xerox, you're ready for real business. welcome back to "hardball." has the crisis in japan stalled the push for nuclear power here in the u.s.? well, it's a good question. not so, reports michael grunwald in the brand new issue of "time" magazine that just came out yesterday. there it is. "republicans have dismissed japan's crisis as a once-in-a-lifetime fluke. president obama has defended atomic energy as a carbon-free source of power, resisting calls to halt the renaissance and freeze construction of the u.s.'s first new reactors in over three decades, but there is
no renaissance. trying to avoid flukes like fukushima daiichi is remarkably costly, and trying to avoid those costs can lead to flukes." i'm wondering, are we in trouble in terms of nuclear? because nuclear was going to be our big salvation from depending on the middle east, from going back to anwar, from more offshore that everybody finds unsightly and now dangerous. it's not our ace in the hole anymore, is it? >> well, nuclear is attractive as a kind of carbon-free alternative to coal. it doesn't really compete with oil, which is more about transportation. nuclear provides our electricity. but it turns out that it's -- you know, the argument used to be, well, it's expensive, but at least it's clean. but it turns out, it's outlandishly expensive, and there are other, cleaner approaches that are much cheaper, most obviously natural gas is pretty clean, energy efficiency is extremely clean,
and you can get it done right away. wind and solar are getting cheaper every day. >> i'm trying to think of what the betting odd would be where the odds are really good but the stakes are really heavy and you lose your house. say you bet your house every day against a $10 bill and you would get a free $10 bill every day until you lose your house. nuclear energy seems like that. it's a good daily bet, but eventually, there's going to be a china syndrome, right? >> well, it's certainly, you know, one thing we learned not only in nature -- >> there will be one, but -- yeah, go ahead. i'm sorry. >> yeah. we've learned not only in nature, but in finance that sometimes these worst-case scenarios really do happen. and you know, if you're using wind or solar or gas, you lose a wind or solar or gas plant. if you lose -- you know, when your nuclear fission is hard and dangerous, and when something bad happens, it can be really bad. but what we've also found is that, you know, because splitting the atom is a really complicated way to generate
power for our xboxes, that it's really expensive to create a plant that can do it properly. you have to choose between either cutting corners or creating these situations where the costs are just not competitive. >> well, back, wel 21, 32 years ago, we had a great film, which was a very popular film in this country and awoke a lot of us to nuclear energy and probably held the country back 20, 30 years, called "china syndrome." jake lemon, jane fonda is in it. michael douglas plays the cameraman. it's about a fictional nuclear accident. lemon plays the plant operator who rebuffed reporter jane fonda's questions about the plant's safety. we'll play you a clip. >> explain something that, unfortunately, people do not understand. these plants are designed for the possibility of an accident. every conceivable thing that could ever go wrong has been taken into consideration. hell, we've got a quality control that's only equalled by nasa.
every component, every one of them is tested and then it's tested again. every critical weld is radiographed. every single thing is checked, double-checked, it's rechecked, everything. >> you haven't answered the question. >> in anything that man ever does, there is some element of risk, right? well, that's why we have what we call defense in depth. that means backup systems, two backup systems, two backup systems. you were there and you saw what happened. there was no leakage of radiation. you know why? the system works. >> and the fukushima plant had two backup systems, it had a diesel backup and it had a battery-operated, and both were flooded by the tsunami. there you go, michael. >> right. you still hear a lot about defense and depth. and the nuclear industry has done a really good job. three decades ago, they had some
really serious problems, and that's part of what led to three mile island. they've become a much better managed -- they're much better run than they were today, but human beings are imperfect. and you know, if this were something where it was our only alternative, the only way to provide our juice, then you'd have to look at it very seriously. but since it's so expensive, since you're talking about these costs that are four or five times what we're looking at with natural gas, sometimes ten times with energy efficiency, it's hard to understand why even after an event like this, you know, people still are saying that it's, you know, it ought to be our first choice. these plants won't be ready for decades. if we want to attack the carbon problem, this is not the answer any time in the next, you know, before 2030. >> michael grunwald, congratulations. michael grunwald from "time" magazine, thank you for coming on. as long as there's wind in north dakota, we probably shouldn't be doing this. up next, the united nations security council set to vote on
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i'm ver and onica de la cru. they are ready to begin pumping water through the cooling system. the u.n. security council has approved a resolution authorizing a no-fly zone over libya. and the senate said the three-week stopgap spending measure to president obama for his signature. meanwhile, the republican-led house voted to end federal funding for national public radio. democratic opponents say the move does nothing to create jobs or lower the deficit. the house also overwhelmingly reject add resolution calling for the withdrawal of all u.s.
troops from afghanistan by the end of the year. a 26-year-old lab technician pled guilty and was sentenced to 44 years in prison for murdering annie lee. food prices surging nearly 4% last month. the biggest jump in almost 30 years. i'm veronica de la cruz. back to "hardball." the future of libya should be decided by the people of libya. the united states stands with the libyan people in support of their universal rights. >> major change in policy today. we're back. >> we're back. that's u.s. ambassador to the united nations, susan rice on wednesday night. ten countries voted in favor of the resolution that authorizes,
quote, all necessary measures it to protect civilians in libya. no country opposed it. china, russia and three other countries abstained. we're joined by mark ginsburg, former ambassador to morocco. mark, my friend, it looks like the language here is stronger and more suggestive of a war front. are we going to stop gadhafi from taking bghazi? >> it looks like it. it looks like an initial wave of british and frieench air force power supported by probably the logistic of qa ittar, jordan an essentially what they're going to do is probably inflict on gadhafi some sort of no drive zone in order to stop his forces were ending benghazi. is ground attack heading eastward to benghazi will be stopped by u.n. planes? >> well, if you put -- i don't know if they're going to be flying with the u.n. insignia but they may be british and french planes with the support of american backup logistics.
>> wow. right now to on the phone to former ambassador. let me ask you this, it seems to me as i just said to marc, this looks like we are turning our policy around. we're behind the french, behind the english, the lebanese and behind this resolution. it looks to me like we have decided to get in this thing. if not boots on thground, just short of that. >> chris, the most important thing with regard to the no-fly zone is that for the past week or so we have enhanced surveillance of libyan airspace. this is absolutely critical for any actual attack packages that the british and french might be taking in to take out defense positions. even a no-fly zone does not deal with the real problem. the real problem is advancing libyan tanks and other armor on the ground. very, very few civilians have been killed by air attacks.
it's been almost entirely a matter of artillery and tanks. >> marc thinks we're going to go for that -- we're going to stop the people on the tanks from moving forward as well. >> exactly. in the end the real battle here is over benghazi and gadhafi has more or less amassed his troops to take it over. he may, in effect, authorize a humanitarian corridor for people who want to leave benghazi to leave and there may be no attack. >> mr. ambassador, what would be the purpose? what would be the purpose of a no-fly zone if it didn't include stopping those tanks on the ground? what would be the purpose? it would allow him to take over his entire country with this fig leaf saying the west is getting involved when they were really letting him take over benghazi? >> the no-fly zone is largely psychological and it's not the case most of his forces are.
they are mostly in western tripoli where he's defending his strong points and a real concern would be the city of misarata with people easily within reach of his armored capability. >> we're just getting this tonight. all necessary means to defend the civilian population. gadhafi said late today, he said it a few minutes ago he's going in and killing people in b benghazi. this might cover people who live in their houses. your thoughts? >> chris, the most effective means that can be used is being done by the egyptians. they're sending in arms and munitions to the rebels. >> right. we have that report. >> i wouldn't be surprised if there are not egyptian trainers going in with them so that the rebels can defend their own turf
in eastern libya. that does not change the fact this might be a long-term standoff with gadhafi able to hold on in the center and west of the country. >> let's take a look on that resolution vote. let's listen to ambassador rice. >> this resolution demands an immediate ceasefire. and a complete end to violence and attacks against civilians. responding to the libyan people and to the league of our states, the security council has authorized the use of force including enforcement of a no-fly zone to protect civilians and civilian areas targeted by colonel gadhafi, his intelligence and security forces, and his mercenaries. >> marc ginsberg, it simes like there's a lot there. we're going to defend the people
of benghazi, which is under attack, and other areas from attacks of mercenaries. it seems like a comprehensive resolution. >> it's unprecedented given the fact the russians and the chinese decided to abstain. there are ten countries that support us. you have the arab league basically endorsing this. the question ultimately is who is going to do the heavy lifting here, chris? is it going to be the french who recognize the new libyan provisional government? is it going to be the brits? is it going to be the united states? right now it's very controversial for the united states to militarily get involved in any arab supported initiative like this even with the backing of the arabs. so i think the question really is, is the united states more or less -- and one of the aims here, are we trying to open up an opportunity for the people to escape benghazi and let gadhafi take back control of the country? are we trying to get rid of him which may be the ultimate goal of the resolution? i'm not sure. i don't think so. and finally, most importantly, are we trying to create a hurting stalemate so that gadhafi -- >> we're going to find out as the hours pass.
big action as soon as tonight. thank you, marc ginsberg and david mack. up next, presidential politics. donald trump is talking more like a candidate and more like a birther. is he gearing up for an actual run for the white house? [ male announcer ] 95% of all americans aren't getting enough whole grain. but actually, it's never been easier to get the whole grain you want from your favorite big g cereals. from cheerios to lucky charms, there's whole grain in every box. make sure to look for the white check. we're with you when you're saving for your dreams. [ woman ] when you want a bank that travels with you. with you when you're ready for the next move. [ male announcer ] now that wells fargo and wachovia have come together, what's in it for you? unprecedented strength, the stability of the leading community bank in the nation and with 12,000 atms and thousands of branches, we're with you in more ways and places than ever before. with you when you want the most from your bank. [ male announcer ] wells fargo. together we'll go far. [ light breathing ] [ sigh ]
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part of the beauty of me is that i'm very rich. so, if i need $600 million, i can put up $600 million myself. that's a huge advantage. >> welcome back to "hardball." that's, of course, donald trump, talking to ashleigh banfield on abc's "good morning america." he's rich, as he says, famous, as he says, and increasingly stealing the spotlight from the regular republicans running for president. our latest nbc news/"wall street journal" poll found that the country has stronger feelings about trump than either mitt romney or tim pawlenty. trump has higher positives and negatives than either of those other guys, romney or pawlenty, who trail back in single digits,
the others. what does trump's trumpeting of himself tell us about the state of the republican field? i think a lot. cynthia tucker is with the "atlanta journal-constitution" and david corn is the washington bureau chief. gentlemen and lady, i want to go with you. trump has something these other guys don't and he's bragging about it. is that teaching us something? what is that thing he has? >> charisma, charisma. he's colorful. let's face it, chris, the republican field is pretty dull. there are some tried and tested governors, former senators, but they're all, with the exception of say sarah palin, pretty dull folk, and the republicans know it. that's why he was listened to when he addressed cpac about a month ago. he actually got in several applause lines, because they're desperate for somebody who's colorful. >> charisma. >> well, he has trumpability. but i'm not sure that's enough. there have been charismatic characters -- >> let's not talk about him as a presidential candidate.
what is he teaching us? here he is and then come back to this. >> okay, i'll come back. >> i want to debate you with this. he does this commentary stuff better than i do because he has nothing to lose. here he is. >> mitt romney? >> well, to resonate. >> tim pawlenty. >> i don't think he's going to captivate the voters. >> john huntsman. >> when you work for somebody else, as he has worked for barack obama, you don't then leave and run against that person. it's very disloyal. >> sarah palin. >> she did fine as the governor. i think personally she made a tragic mistake when she left early. i think she's more qualified than barack obama was when he became president. >> well, i have a problem with that last argument. here he is saying nice things, however, about huckabee and gingrich, both birthers. let's listen. >> mike huckabee. >> i really like him. he's the kind of a guy that maybe could really get some votes. >> newt gingrich.
>> you know what i like gingrich? he just joined my club in washington. i'm very happy. >> that's where he loses all credibility, when he says stuff like nap here's trump on the birthers joining them. let's listen as he joins the birthers. >> everybody that even gives any hint of being a birther, a word you didn't use, even a little bit of a hint, like gee, you know, maybe, just maybe this much of a chance, they label thefl as an idiot. let me tell you. i'm a really smart guy. i was a really good student at the best school in the country. the reason i have a little doubt, just a little, is because he grew up and nobody knew him. when you interview people, if i ever got the nomination, if i ever decide to run, you may go back and interview people from my kindergarten, they'll remember me. nobody ever comes forward. nobody knows who he is until later in his life. it's very strange. the whole thing is very strange. >> he didn't do his homework, first. we've got pictures of barack o'in grade school. we've got pictures of him in his basketball uniform. in high school being on the team that wins the state -- there he is, winning the statewide
championship in basketball. we've got his pictures. we've got interviews with his grade school teachers. you could write an autobiography. he ran for president. we've got it all. this is absolute malarkey donald's selling here. why is he selling it? who's he playing to? >> this may be the only indication that he's really thinking of running for president. >> that's what our executive producer believes. because? why would he get in this ditch? >> why get into this? this is the purest form of pandering to the far right of the primary electorate. >> okay. why is he going primate, if you will, here? why is he doing this? there's a good phrase. going primate. why is he going out there and selling this malarkey? we know everything -- they had birth announcements in the honolulu newspapers this guy's born. >> come on, it's no more malarkey than the stuff trump usually sells. >> why is trump selling the fact this guy may be an impostor, not really an american, not really whoes but someone who stepped in mysteriously in his teenage years to take on this manchurian candidate role. what's he implying? doubt. what's this doubt about? doubt of what? >> well, because, as david just
said, he wants to play to the far right of the republican party. he wants to stay in or pretend to stay in as long as -- >> okay, june, he's played this wonderful card. cynthia, david, he's played this wonderful card of saying i'll tell you in june because that's when "the apprentice" runs out. then he's going to dawdle around for a couple months. does he get in the debates? will he try to get -- he'll probably miss the reagan library debate. is he going to get into the debates? >> that presupposes he's actually going to announce and run. >> well, will he start peeling off the money? >> this guy is not a natural fit with the social conservative base of the party. you know, his social -- >> he says he's pro life. >> he says that. does anyone believe it? >> well, he said it. he's a birther and a pro-lifer. >> he's trying -- >> he's working it. >> he's trying very hard. but right now i think there's more bluster than reality here. you know, he said in the same interview, "i'm friends with more poor people than rich people." >> but he's a great salesman. i love the show he puts -- i
like the guy personally. he puts on a great show. he's very likeable in person. but i don't -- i guess i don't like the fact he plays this card about birther because it has an ethnic aspect to it. he wouldn't be doing this to another candidate who wasn't named barack obama. >> well, of course. nobody would. >> cynthia, thank you. that's the bottom line. he wouldn't be doing this to a bush. thank you, cynthia tucker and david corn. i'm not even sure he's a republican. had we return, let me finish with st. patrick's day and the important role it plays in my little family. you're watching "hardball." it's not a little family. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. and my itchy eyes took refuge from the dust in here and the pollen outside. but with 24-hour zyrtec®, i get prescription strength relief from my worst allergy symptoms. it's the brand allergists recommend most. ♪ lily and i are back on the road again. where we belong. with zyrtec®, i can love the air®. where we belong. funny how nature just knows how to make things
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let me finish tonight with this day, march 17th, st. patrick's day. also my parents' anniversary. they were married on this day back in 1942 for two very basic reasons. one, it was st. patrick's day. and two, it was the day the church gave dispensation from lent. there was no fasting or giving up things. i'm remembering this because of the power history has on people. i started today at the vice president's house, hearing him talk about the ongoing effort to keep peace in northern ireland between the catholics and the protestants. i have an interest in that peace because i'm the result of a more limited peace between the two religions over there. my mother was catholic and my father was protestant when he married. my mother's parents were shields and conrans and quinlans.
i favor the quinlans they tell me. my mother the family was from northern island ireland and as orange aukz get. think of mrs. doubtfire in this case for real. we grew up with grandma's brogue and mom taking shots from the other side but only on occasion like when grandma became a citizen just so she could vote for eisenhower a fellow presbyterian. i'm lucky to have had such parents from either side of that old fight over there and here in the old days my mother would remind us she couldn't get a job with the milk company in philadelphia before the war. that's world war ii. if you didn't fill out an application that included the religion question. the right answer on that application was episcopalian or presbyterian or something along that line. writing in catholic was the wrong answer. when mom and dad got married it didn't go over all that well with their parents, either family back then. it was a rather small wedding i hear. as thing happen in this country it all worked out. we were totally utterly wonderfully loved by our grandparents and aunts and uncles on both sides. whatever difficulty there was in getting their parents to accept their marriage there was no